April 30, 2016 [LINK / comment]

Trump & Clinton take commanding leads

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton followed up their victories in the New York primary elections last week with decisive wins in five other mid-Atlantic states this past Tuesday. In all five states, Trump won by a wide margin, while Hillary won in four of them. Bernie Sanders won Rhode Island. Thus, after a momentary pause in Wisconsin earlier in the month, the front-runners have regained the momentum they had recently lost to "Ted" Cruz and Bernie Sanders.

As of now (see politico.com), Hillary Clinton has 2,165 delagates, and Bernie Sanders has 1,357. She is so close to the 2,383 mark she can almost taste it. Bernie has begun laying off staff workers, and has shifted his rhetoric from seeking outright victory to merely getting his way with the Democratic platform. In other words, for all intents and purposes, it's all over on the Democratic side. I updated the Decision 2016 page with the latest delegate totals.

As for the Republicans, Trump now has 996 delegates, far more than "Ted" Cruz's total of 565. That puts Trump within close range of getting the 1237 delegates he needs to claim a first-ballot automatic victory. In response, John Kasich and Cruz announced they will cooperate by not competing against each other in the upcoming primaries. Cruz will in effect run head-to-head against Trump in Indiana (election day is this Tuesday, May 3), while Kasich will do likewise in Oregon (May 17) and Washington (May 24). Whether this arrangement lasts that long is another matter. (According to Chris Cillizza at the Washington Post, the deal is already dead.) Rumors suggest that more Republican "establishment" figures are facing up to Trump as the "presumptive nominee." Nevertheless, hopes for a contested convention are not dead yet. It may come down the very last big state primary election, in California on June 7.

Here's an irony: Trump frequently complains that the delegate selection process is "rigged" against him, but the latest primary elections indicate the opposite is true. In all five states, John Kasich won at least 20 percent of the vote, but he only was awarded five delegates, in Rhode Island. In fact, the system is "rigged," but it's rigged in favor of the front-runner: Trump!

The other day, Kasich said he was going to make a special announcement, leading people to expect he was withdrawing from the race, and then after a pause for dramatic effect, he said he would remain a candidate. Good for him! Does he have a realistic chance of winning? Of course not! For those of us who worked for years in the trenches for the GOP, always putting the party ahead of self, only to be spit on and cast aside by a gang of thugs, it is a great tonic to see a courageous Republican leader. Kasich stared cold, hard reality in the face, and yet remains determined to give the voters a real choice!

Campaign signs Spr. 2016

Campaign signs for the presidential races and (at bottom) for the Staunton City Council or School Board.

Thoughts on Facebook

On his Facebook page, Bruce Bartlett often proclaims support for Donald Trump, but merely as a way to hasten the demise of the Republican Party. Prior to the Virginia primary on March 1, I explained why I resisted voting with such a extremely consequentionalist (indeed cynical) rationale:

I think it's probably too late to save the GOP, so strategic voting such as Bruce suggests is not likely to make a difference. Those in the center-right who still cling to hope are begging others to vote for Rubio as the only one who can stop Trump, but I plan to vote for the only remaining candidate whom I could respect as president: Kasich. Call it a futile protest vote.

On Ryan Setliff's page, I took exception to the suggestion that the Republican Party should identify itself with right-wing populism:

Historically, the Republican Party was never identified with "hard right populism," [as Ryan Setliff advocates] and the push to make it that has understandably met with some resistance by the "RINOs." (Ironic!) It is not neoconservatives who define the dwindling core of old-timers, but rather a commitment to free markets, international engagement (a middle course between unilateral interventionism vs. isolationism), and fiscal responsibility. Personally, I favor an amicable divorce, in hopes of cooperation in future years.

Humor the best medicine

On Jimmy Kimmel's show, they did a great parody of the movie and Broadway play The Producers, in which a couple of sleazy political operatives concoct what they think is a bogus presidential campaign for Donald Trump, taking advantage of gullible elderly donors, and then the whole scam goes south when Trump ends up winning. See vox.com. Truth is stranger than fiction?